Oregon’s beer bubble

Found this article on Beverage World about what I’m terming the "Oregon beer bubble":

Sales may be flat at the nation’s biggest beer companies, but they continue to be frothy for Oregon’s fast-growing craft brewers. The state’s predominantly small breweries sold 18.3 million gallons of beer in 2004, nearly 10 percent more than 2003, and craft brewers nationwide posted a 7 percent gain, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the beverage alcohol industry.

Total sales by U.S. beer companies, dominated by mega-brewers such as Anheuser-Busch Cos., fell 1.6 percent during the year. Counting imports, overall beer sales nationally inched 0.6 percent higher.

While the biggest brewers continue to merge and consolidate and reposition themselves in response to lackluster sales, Oregon brewers and brewpubs are in many cases taking advantage of their good fortune to increase production and revamp facilities….

The craft segment nationally accounts for just 3½ percent of the beer market — Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Co. spill more beer in a year than American craft brewers produce, according to the Brewers Almanac. But in Oregon, craft beers account for 11 percent of all beer sold and 38 percent of draft beer sales, the highest percentages in the country.

According to Oregon Brewers Guild figures, craft brewers directly employ 3,000 people and provide thousands more jobs in distribution, retail, agriculture and supply. All told, the guild estimates that Oregon craft brewing has an annual economic impact of $2.24 billion.

Basically, it’s a good time to be a beer drinker in Oregon. It’s an even better time to be a beer brewer here.